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Toward Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21st Century
matter management and reduced tillage; integrated fertility management; water harvesting and use of drip irrigation; development of crop varieties that are resistant to environmental stress, diseases, and pests; development of improved animal breeds; greater integration of crops and animal production; and use of GIS to enable landscape and regional analysis and planning. Adoption of such technologies could be affected by multiple factors, including access to credit, that would have to be addressed to use available technologies.
Investment in agricultural R&D needs to increase, and the new commitment by African nations to respond to this need presents a critical opportunity to create a research and extension system that reflects an interdisciplinary systems approach to addressing agricultural problems.
New research programs would need to actively seek input and collaboration from farmers to ensure that appropriate research questions are being asked and technologies tested. Women play a critical role in African agriculture, and they need to be provided with educational and training opportunities and be involved in the development of research agendas.
Expansion of access to markets will be essential to increase productivity and enhance livelihoods in rural Africa. Investing in rural infrastructure could improve local, regional, and international market access.
The indigenous research and education system needs to be greatly strengthened, with institutions firmly grounded in interdisciplinary systems thinking and connected to local farmers and their production and livelihood needs.
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